Gaborone Bonnington South Member of Parliament, Ndaba Gaolathe
Gaborone Bonnington South Member of Parliament, Ndaba Gaolathe has opined that the saga involving President of Court of Appeal, Justice Ian Kirby, who was mentioned in the infamous Panama papers serves to expose the lapses of the country’s governance system.
The Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) president expressed that while the mention of a prominent judge’s name should not cause the conclusion that he is involved in illegal activity, he said as an able judge, he should have been aware that the law firm he used did not enjoy an impeccable reputation, even at the time.
“The concealment of shareholders in general, in such companies, also means a possible concealment of names of individuals that may have to be tried before the courts at some point, before a judge who may be conflicted, without anyone knowing. These are some of the matters that the Judge President sought to clear in a recent interview,” he told Weekend Post.
Gaolathe said the question of whether Justice Kirby should or should not resign misses the more pertinent questions as the main concern should be whether the judiciary in Botswana is becoming less and less independent of the executive.
“Is our system becoming less fairer? Is ours a deteriorating democracy? The answer is an emphatic yes; our entire system of Governance is deteriorating, if not disintegrating,” he asserted.
Gaolathe remarked that in a robust democracy, the country’s system would have a freedom of information or declaration legislation as reference on which it would have been a simple matter to assess the mention of anyone’s name on the Panama papers.
In Kirby’s particular situation, Gaolathe said, a more independent judiciary would have issued, as an institution, a statement clearing the air and making plain the facts that reinforce the hope that the institution remains intact, and possessing all the ingredients and the personnel to sustain, enhance and pursue its role as a fair and independent judiciary.
“This has not been done, or if it has been done, it was done in a way that is too little to notice. The executive branch of the BDP-led Government, through its acts of unduly imposing its will, first on the country’s legislature, and now on the judiciary, is planting the seeds for the disintegration of our democracy,” he stated.
“With a weakened legislature, and now an increasingly weakening judiciary, Botswana’s system of governance is deteriorating and it will become more difficult to conjure the confidence of the people.”
According to the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) secretary general, what the Panama papers are doing is simply to expose the lapses of our governance system.
He contends that Botswana needs a fresher constitutional framework, more robust governance and transparency laws and fairer budgetary investment in the other branches of Government outside the executive.
Gaolathe decried the state of Botswana’s judiciary as he expressed that many observers in the past suggest that Botswana’s judiciary was for a long time, considered relatively independent and fair.
“Those in the know mention that the greatest institutional reform of Botswana’s judiciary transpired during Julian Nganunu’s tenure as Chief Justice,” he said.
“The greatest improvement during his tenure was a simple, yet a fundamental one: he secured the resources necessary for judges to do their work freely and unconstrained, supported by an administrative and intellectual infrastructure.”
Gaolathe said despite such achievement, recent years have brought scrutiny to the state of our judiciary because appointments to the bench have tended to favour candidates with links or known sympathy to the ruling party, at the expense of more able candidates whose political affiliation were deemed mysterious.
“A case in point is that of Motumisi (Omphemetse), an impeccable legal intellect with an unimpeachable sense of fairness and devotion to justice in general, who was overlooked by our judicial selection system, but who would have made it to the finest benches anywhere else in the world,” he claimed.
“By far one of the most worrisome epochs in the evolution of our judiciary was the suspension of three or four judges – Justice Key Dingake, Justice Modiri Letsididi, Mercy Garekwe and Justice Rainer Busang – from the bench last year, for unclear reasons.”
Gaolathe opines that the matter could have been resolved administratively, by applying some provisions of the Public Finance and Management Act.
“The involvement of the executive whether directly or indirectly in this decision and process is a major indictment on the current Government’s commitment to an independent judiciary,” he expressed.
“This is a major question about our country, because it touches the heart of whether we are a genuine democracy or serious about becoming one, or whether we continue to regress and gravitate towards a subtle dictatorship, a subtle autocracy, a subtle hard-fisted state controlled by a mafia that is able to camouflage behind a ruling party, a mafia dictated to by the secret and destructive acts of the DIS.”
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.